The 2024 Africa Cup of Nations is proving to be a tournament of the unexpected, and Sunday in Abidjan was no exception. In a day of stunning upsets, minnows Cape Verde emerged as the heroes, snatching a dramatic 2-1 victory over four-time champions Ghana in Group B.
This wasn’t just any win for the tiny island nation. It was a statement of resilience, a David-and-Goliath triumph that sent shockwaves through the continent. After Nigeria’s earlier stumble against Equatorial Guinea and Egypt’s last-gasp draw with Mozambique, Cape Verde’s victory cemented the day’s theme: the established order is being challenged.
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The Blue Sharks wasted no time in asserting their dominance. In the 17th minute, Dutch-born forward Garry Rodrigues saw his shot parried by Ghana goalkeeper Richard Ofori, but the rebound fell perfectly for Jamiro Monteiro to tap home from close range.
Ghana briefly rallied, with Majeed Ashimeru unleashing a thunderous strike that seemed destined for the net. However, a last-ditch goal-line clearance by Djiku kept Cape Verde ahead. The Black Stars continued to press, but their efforts were repeatedly thwarted by a resolute Cape Verdean defense.
Just when it seemed Ghana might salvage a point, disaster struck in stoppage time. A defensive lapse by Mohammed Salisu allowed substitute Gilson Benchimol to steal the ball and cleverly poke it past Ofori. The loose ball landed at the feet of Rodrigues, who coolly slotted it home to send the Cape Verdean bench into a frenzy.
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The victory was a historic moment for Cape Verde, marking their first-ever win against Ghana and their first win at the AFCON since 2013. It was also a day of personal milestones, with Ghana’s Dede Ayew equaling the record for most AFCON appearances (eight) held by Cameroon’s Rigobert Song and Egyptian Ahmed Hassan.
But beyond the records and statistics, Sunday was a day for the underdogs. It was a day for the minnows to show their teeth, to prove that on the African stage, anything is possible. As the dust settles on this enthralling encounter, one thing is clear: the 2024 AFCON is wide open, and every team, regardless of their pedigree, has a chance to write their own fairytale.